Navy’s Goal Could Improve Economics of Biofuel Development, Arena Plans More Studies of Weight-Loss Drug, Lpath Signs Deal With Pfizer for Eye Drug, & More San Diego Life Sciences News

12/23/10Follow @bvbigelow

San Diego’s life sciences news began to slow down over the past week, but there was still plenty of items to round up. Happy holidays from Xconomy.

—San Diego’s emerging algal biofuels industry got encouragement from the U.S. Navy, which said it will need 336 million gallons of advanced biofuels a year, beginning in 2020, to meet a goal set by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. The Navy secretary wants to use alternative energy sources to provide 50 percent of the energy for all its war-fighting ships, planes, vehicles and shore installations in less than 10 years.  That’s good news for San Diego-based General Atomics, a private defense contractor developing algal biofuels for the Pentagon.

—San Diego-based Lpath said it has granted Pfizer an exclusive option for a worldwide license to develop and commercialize its lead monoclonal antibody drug candidate, iSONEP, as a possible treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration and other disorders of the eye. Under the agreement, Pfizer will provide Lpath with an upfront option payment of $14 million and share the cost of planned early stage clinical trials. If Pfizer exercises additional options, Lpath could receive as much as $497.5 million and sales-based royalties.

—Shares of San Diego’s Arena Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ARNA) fell 24 cents, or almost 12 percent, yesterday after the biopharmaceutical company said it will likely be the end of 2011 before the company will resubmit the new drug application for its weight loss drug, lorcaserin. Arena, which closed at $1.80 a share in heavy trading, said it’s now planning new studies of the drug’s potential cancer risks after meeting this week with the Food and Drug Administration. “The meeting discussions reinforce our position that we have a path forward to seek FDA approval of lorcaserin,” Arena CEO Jack Lief says in a statement from the company.

Reva Medical, a San Diego maker of absorbable stents, is scheduled to begin trading today on the Australian Securities Exchange after the medical device company raised almost $85 million in its initial public offering.

—Santa Clara, CA-based Affymetrix (NASDAQ: AFFX) said a federal judge dismissed a patent infringement lawsuit that San Diego-based Illumina (NASDAQ: ILMN) had filed against it.

—San Diego diagnostic product maker Gen-Probe (NASDAQ: GPRO), paid $53 million to acquire GTI Diagnostics of Waukesha, WI. Gen-Probe said GTI’s technology will expand its product offerings with diagnostics focused on transplantation.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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  • Jim Colthart

    I would be interested to know whether either company has begun to explore cellulosic renewable liquid hydrocarbons, which strike me as being far mmore likely to meet the Navy’s needs in a timely manner. Technologies exist to produce these today from forest residue price-competitive with petroleum-derived transportation fuels at current prices without any subsidy.